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Times of Israel: Student Uses Fungi for Sustainable Solutions

Times of Israel: Student Uses Fungi for Sustainable Solutions

July 8, 2022

Alternative Energy, Sustainability & Climate Change

The Times of Israel–A doctoral student at Ben-Gurion University is using fungi to develop sustainable insulation for the construction industry. Achiya Livne presented his work at the 50th conference of the Israel Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

Achiya Livne, doctoral student at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Buildings are responsible for around 40% of all energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in the industrialized world, Livne told the confab. More than 33 billion tons of concrete are produced every year, worldwide, with cement -– a key ingredient — responsible for around eight to nine percent of global warming carbon emissions. Livne set out to find a building material that could absorb, rather than emit, CO₂, alighting upon mycelium — fungal threads that can be easily cultivated and are remarkably strong.

The mushrooms we see above ground are the fruiting bodies. Below ground are extensive networks of mycelium, which break down organic matter in the soil. Mycelium forms physical connections between plants in a complex system that has come to be known as the Wood Wide Web.

Livne has created a prototype that uses mycelium to bind agricultural waste.

Livne is now trying to find a way to reduce or eliminate the need to heat the mycelium. The fine fungal threads – called hyphae – are being used in an increasing number of applications worldwide, from building materials and textiles to substitutes for meat, leather, and plastic. According to English biologist Merlin Sheldrake, material from Portobello mushrooms could one day replace graphite in lithium batteries, while mycelium of other species can already be used by doctors as an effective skin substitute.

Read more in The Times of Israel >>